Google Educator Certification Boot Camp

I’m excited to be a Google for Education Certified Trainer and will be holding a boot camp in Frisco, TX on July 12-13, 2016 to help teachers get ready for the Google Certified Educator exams.  I have been holding 1 day sessions in my district this semester and we currently have 24!  Check out the flyer for more information!

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Blended Learning

Blended Learning is the integration of digital learning with classroom instruction.  I used blended instruction with my 7th grade science students during the 2014-15 school year with great success.  My school district does not offer advanced classes for 7th grade science students and while most classrooms focus on teaching to the middle and differentiating for the low, I wanted to also extend learning for my critical thinkers.  Blended Learning was a method that helped me achieve my goals.  I chose the rotation model for my science classroom.

5 Tips I’ve learned along the way…

1) Have goals in mind that relate to your objectives and be able to explain how this method will help you achieve those goals.

Administrators want to know that your instructional methods will help you meet your curriculum objectives.  Discussing the blended learning method with your adminstrators is helpful to work out your goals and potential issues.  A great way to get your students on board with this instructional change is to be up front with them.  I explained to my students at the beginning of the year that I wanted all of them to succeed and enjoy my class.  I made it relevant to every student by identifying their hurdles.  This method would help those students that finished before others and were easily bored during class time to move ahead and be engaged.  Students that always felt rushed by other students would be able to work at their own pace and not be distracted by students that were finished early.  Parents also want to know that you have thought out how your instructional methods will help their child, especially when it is a method they are unfamiliar with.

2)  Look at the bigger picture…but start small

You need to be aware of your ultimate goal for your school year but you need to start small when it comes to incorporating a new instructional method into your classroom.  Going slow gives you a chance to work out any problems that arise but also your students to adapt to the changes in their learning envirnonment.

3)  Don’t be afraid to fail

Not everything you do is going to be perfect.  Talk to your students and parents throughout the process. Ask them what is working and what they would like to see done differently.  Show students that it is okay to fail…as long as you keep working at the problem.  Your classroom should be a safe place to fail, problem solve and seek help from others.

4)  Technology needs to have a purpose…not just a fun way to pass the time.

Technology integration can be a delicate balance.  You should ask your self if the technology is enhancing the learning of content or just a fun distraction.  The use of technology should have a meaningful purpose to enhance the learning environment and should not become a distraction.


5)  Don’t be afraid to ask for help…Do your research and create your own PLN

You don’t always need to have all the answers.  Create a professional learning network that you can turn to.  If you don’t have an abundance of resources in your school or district, look outside.  Online courses, webinars and Twitter were valuable resources for me.  The strongest teachers are those that keep learning.

Creating a PD Badge Program


As an Instructional Technology Specialist, its my job to help my teachers learn how to integrate technology in meaningful ways.  But what happens when the teachers just don’t have the time?  Time is a precious commodity for educators so I was looking for a way to provide technology professional development but without taking up too much time or causing more stress to their daily schedules.

After reading Kasey Bell’s blog post about Denton ISD’s use of badges to gamify their technology PD, I was hooked.  Find out how I created the program and lessons we’ve learned during implementation.  You’ll also have access to templates of the forms and badges we use!  Go to my PD Badge page and keep reading!

Build a ‘Shark Tank Show’ in Your Classroom

Inside the classroom, outside the box!

“Innovation is change that unlocks new value” By Jamie Notter


The TV show ‘Shark Tank’ gives entrepreneurs an opportunity to sell a business idea to millionaire entrepreneurs in only a few minutes. One day when watching the show I thought ‘why couldn’t we take this idea and add it into the classroom?’ That is when I started brainstorming different ways to use the ‘Shark Tank’ framework to bring in more student ownership into the classroom. I soon realized I have been doing a version of ‘Shark Tank’ in my classroom before Shark Tank was invented!

Each year in my math class, students were put into groups and had to design a theme park. This project lasted all year long and for each standard/skill, they had a different piece to complete. For example, area and perimeter: The students had to mathematically figure out how to best utilize their blueprint to fit…

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Think Like Scientists: Can You Balance An Egg on Its End?

In my classroom, we call it the CER method. Different name, same strategy to write a great conclusion!

Inside the classroom, outside the box!

“Great discoveries and improvements invariably involve the cooperation of many minds. I may be given credit for having blazed the trail, but when I look at the subsequent developments I feel the credit is due to others rather than to myself.” Alexander Graham Bell

Guest Blog Post by Wayne Fisher, Elementary Science Specialist

There is an urban myth that the only day you can balance an egg on its end is during the spring equinox, which happened to be March 20th at 12:57 pm. Is that true and how can we know?   Here’s how:
Use the CL-EV-R model to engage your students in an activity where they try to balance a egg on its end.   CL-EV-R stands for Claims, Evidence, and Reasons and is a wonderful teaching and learning strategy to support argumentation in the Common Core as well as learning in science.
The short version of CL-EV-R is for students…

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Flipping the SMART Way

Last week I attended Allen ISD’s 2nd Annual Flipped Classroom Conference cohosted by Flipped Learning.  Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams started out the day discussing the best practices in the Flipped Classroom and sharing their journey during the last six years.  You can check out their websites as well as some of the videos they shared by going to   Bergmann and Sams suggested starting with a flipped lesson or recording your lessons and slowly working up to flipping your class.

6 year journey    Flip SMART presentation

I presented a breakout session during the day about flipping the classroom with SMART products.   I started flipping lessons in my 6th grade science classroom last year.  As a SMART Exemplary Educator and SMART Certified Trainer,  I love using my SMARTboard and SMART Response in my classroom and found engaging ways to incorporate them into the flipped model of learning.

The way I started becoming more familiar and comfortable with the flipped model is very similar to how Bergmann and Sams started out.  I would create interactive SMARTboard lessons to use in my class and would then record them and post them on my website.  This gave students that were absent a great way to get the missed concepts and for students that were in class a way to review.  My very first flipped lesson was on the concept of force and motion.  I used Notebook to create a lesson and then used the recorder feature to video it and then posted it on my website.   I used a learning contract to guide student activities that pertained to the concepts from the video.  Students could work at their own pace and I was available to support them as they learned through inquiry.   I slowly incorporated more flipped lessons throughout the year and also included aspects of Project-Based Learning.  My students started using SMART Notebook to create lessons and their own videos.  Students also enjoyed the immediate feedback they received from using SMART Response.

Smart Notebook to Flip    SONY DSC

Using the Flipped Model in my classroom last year was a huge success. The students loved the differentiation and personal attention I was able to provide and parents enjoyed knowing what their students were learning.  The most important thing I learned last year was that there is no right way to use the Flipped Model.  It can look different from one classroom to the next.  You have to decide what is the best use of your face to face class time (Bergmann & Sams).  For me, sometimes this means direct instruction and other times it was class discussion or lab activities.

My students were thrilled to share how they used SMART products during a SMART TX Virtual User Group Webinar.  The link to this recording and other resources from my classroom can be found at

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